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'Ender's Game' Blasts to Top of Weekend Box Office

By Jessica Herndon

LOS ANGELES -- Weekend moviegoers chose sci-fi over slapstick.

Ender's Game scored the No. 1 slot at the weekend box office, earning $28 million in its opening weekend and sending Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa into second place, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Lionsgate's (LGF) Ender's Game, based on the novel by Orson Scott Card, stars Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford as intergalactic soldiers.

Comments made by Card expressing opposition to gay marriage led some to call for a boycott of the film. But a strong first-place opening met the studio's pre-weekend expectations.

But ticket sales didn't come close to the opening weekends of other young-adult science-fiction adaptations, like Twilight and The Hunger Games. It did fare better than Beautiful Creatures and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.

" Ender's Game is a big-budget movie that could be the start of a franchise," said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Rentrak. "This time of year is not exactly a hotbed of million-dollar openings, but once they launch worldwide, it will do well."

A representative for Lionsgate declined to be interviewed for this story.

Paramount's (VIA) candid-camera comedy starring Johnny Knoxville disguised as an old man brought in an additional $20.5 million in its second weekend, with a domestic total reaching more than $62 million.

Other films opening this weekend didn't generate as much enthusiasm.

CBS Films' (CBS) Last Vegas, featuring an all-star cast of silver screen veterans including Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline, opened in third place, with $16.5 million.

"It's interesting to see the number of stars that are not in their 20s in the top films," Dergarabedian said. " Ender's Game has Harrison Ford and Viola Davis, and Last Vegas is like a Hangover for the older crowd. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (in Gravity) appeal to an older audience, and 12 Years a Slave, which continues to impress as it expands into more and more theaters, is a very sophisticated drama."

Relativity Media's 3-D animated kiddie flick Free Birds, with characters voiced by Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler, debuted in the fourth spot, with $16.2 million.

After its fifth weekend at the box office, the Warner Bros. (TWX) 3-D stunner Gravity is still holding in the fifth position. It banked $13.1 million over the weekend, bringing its domestic total to $220 million.
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